Queen of the Damned

Are Anne Rice’s novels as dull and weird as they appear on screen, or does something get lost in the translation?

“Interview with the Vampire” may have had Tom Cruise to blame, for being such a bland bloodsucker, and “Queen of the Damned” alleviates that problem by getting Stuart Townsend to play Lestat. But it doesn’t help much: “Queen of the Damned” is still a terminally downbeat affair.

This time, Lestat has been asleep for 100 years due to being bored. But now that the kids are worshipping rock ‘n’ roll, it seems like an amusing time for a vampire to come out of hiding and take in the scenery. And so he does, and he becomes a rock star, and he tells everyone he’s a vampire.

This violates the code of secrecy, of course, but that’s part of the plan: He’s trying to lure out his nemesis, the vampire Marius (Vincent Perez), who years ago did him wrong and now it’s payback time, or something. Lestat also awakens Queen Akasha (Aaliyah, in her last film role before dying), an all-powerful vampire who can set folks on fire just by looking at them. They make quite a pair, let me tell you, he with his pale, bloody-toothed leer and she with her chronic firestarting.

Director Michael Rymer uses wall-to-wall atmosphere and a soundtrack loud enough to keep you from dozing. There’s also an attempt at a point, something about today’s godless youth somehow deserving to be killed by the walking dead, which I confess I have also considered at times.

But darn it, it’s all just a big mess of a movie, full of images and events, but no tension or surprise. There’s very little wit, and not a bit of interesting characterization. It’s a vampire movie, yes, but all the life has been sucked out of it.

D (; R, a lot of vampire violence, some mild sexuality.)